Marijuana (cannabis) is the most commonly used illicit drug around the world, especially among young men. Its use is even legal or essentially legal in some states and other areas of the world. Regardless of its status, one of the questions men are asking is, does marijuana affect sex drive in a negative way? Indeed, the high and positive sexual enhancement men may be looking for could instead be marred by a negative impact on their sexual performance.
A new review of the medical literature, conducted by two researchers at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada, reports that men who use marijuana may experience difficulty achieving and maintaining an erection.
According to Dr. Rany Shamloul, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology at Queen’s University, many young men and women “are unaware of the hazardous effects it [marijuana] may be having on their sexual health and performance.” One of those dangers came to light recently in animal and in vitro studies, according to the authors.
While it has been known that marijuana can impact certain receptors in the brain, newer research indicates that these receptors appear to be found in the penis as well. This discovery comes from Sweden, where researchers studied cannabinoid receptors in the corpus cavernosum of both monkeys and humans. Thus men who use marijuana may be stimulating specific receptors in the cavernous tissue, which may result in erectile dysfunction.
This new information, noted Dr. Shamloul, “will change the current understanding of the magnitude of the impact” of marijuana on men’s sexual function and sexual health. It also offers food for thought for men who are currently using or contemplating use of marijuana.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Gratzke C et al. Localization and function of cannabinoid receptors in the corpus cavernosum: basis for modulation of nitric oxide synthase nerve activity. European Urology 2010 Feb; 57(2): 342-48
Shamloul R, Bella AJ. Impact of cannabis use on male sexual health. Journal of Sexual Medicine 2011 Apr; 8(4): 971-75